Fonterra farmers are emotional but realistic about losing some iconic business units — notably Tip Top, says Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman Duncan Coull.
Coull says New Zealand farmers pride themselves in weathering the vagaries of commodity prices.
“I know some farmers are feeling very fragile; this is the time to knuckle down and come together as a co-op and work together,” he told Dairy News.
The Otorohanga farmer, who milks 700 cows on two farms with contract milkers, believes the next 12 months will be hard. “It will be a battle of resilience but we need to come out on top.”
Coull was elected unopposed, succeeding Ian Brown, who decided not to stand for re-election after three years in the role. Coull, who represents Fonterra farmers in Otorohanga, was the council deputy chair for the past 12 months.
“It’s a privilege to be elected to lead the council and I thank councilors for their support. I’m aware of my responsibility to councilors and all Fonterra farmers and I’m committed to ensuring their views are represented and their interests are protected through effective monitoring and strong representation.”
He paid tribute to Brown for “a tremendous amount of time, energy and unwavering commitment to the role to the betterment of all our farmers”.
“Ian is one of the council’s strongest advocates and I will strive to build on what he has started. Ian will continue in his council role and represent farmers in South Waikato for the duration of his three-year term.”
Coull says the council must keep acting to earn the respect of Fonterra farmers.
“With the volatility we face in our industry it’s important that farmers understand they have a representative body within Fonterra which, backed by the constitution, works to ensure their views are heard and to protect their interests as owners of the co-op.
“I’m committed to continuing our strong working relationship with the board; honest dialogue at this level enables us to function most effectively as farmer representatives.”